Weights

In ancient times, the use of weights was confined to weighing precious metals, silver and gold, which served as a means of payment before the invention of coins; weights were also used to weigh special products, such as spices and medicines.

The Museum's collection contains weights made of stone, bronze, lead, and glass that belong to the different weighing systems commonly used among the cultures of the Ancient Near East from the Canaanite period to the end of the Byzantine period. The weights come in a variety of shapes, the most noticeable being a group of animal shaped weights made of bronze or hematite. A large and important group in this collection is that of the Judean stone weights from the end of the First Temple period (8th to 6th centuries BCE). The weighing system was based on the shekel unit in multiples of four: 2, 4, 8, 16, 24, 40, etc. Apparently this correlated with the weighing system used in Egypt, with which Judah had trade contacts during this period. In the absence of numerical digits, the Judean weights have markings in the Egyptian hieratic script.

Other Judean weight units were the beqa, nesef, and pym, and their names are inscribed in ancient Hebrew script on the weights.
This weighing system, which was introduced in the 8th century BCE, went out of use with the destruction of the First Temple and the loss of independence of the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE. It was replaced by the Babylonian-Persian weighing system.

Stone weights from Judah, Late Israelite (Iron) period
8th - 6th centuries BCE
Stone weights from Judah, Late Israelite (Iron) period, 8th - 6th centuries